Japanese gay men’s attitudes towards “gay manga” and the problem of genre

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This article critically analyses the concept of ‘gay manga’ to ascertain how fan ‘produsers’ and casual consumers understand both geikomi (also known as bara) and Boys Love (BL) manga. Drawing upon interviews with four Japanese gay men,
one Japanese Korean man and one Japanese Brazilian man, I investigate how ‘gay manga’ is understood as a locus for the construction of gay subjectivity. I argue that the informants understand BL and geikomi as two aspects of the same meta-genre, revealing how attitudes to the term ‘gay’ have evolved in Japan. For the informants, geikomi and BL are interconnected and they are both understood as legitimate expressions of gay subjectivity that play a crucial role in their understandings of gay desire. Importantly, by focusing upon readers’ subjective relationships with texts, this article demonstrates how ‘gay manga’ is understood through an affective lens, with consumers locating their understandings of ‘gay manga’ within their overall patterns of ‘gay media’ consumption. Throughout the article, I reflect upon the necessity for scholars to engage with genre in a more nuanced fashion in order to better understand how individual consumers engage with media texts in their everyday lives.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)59-72
Number of pages14
JournalEast Asian Journal of Popular Culture
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2017


  • Boys Love (BL)
  • geikomi
  • manga
  • genre
  • affect
  • produsage


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